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Jensen’s Marina creates rain garden

By Staff | Nov 23, 2011

This rain garden with native vegetation at Jensen’s Marina helps capture rainwater runoff before it runs into the bay.

Captiva Island stole the hearts of the Jensen brothers Dave, John and Jimmy more than 35 years ago. As owners of the legendary Jensen’s Twin Palm Cottages & Marina Resort, they make every effort to give each island guest the same heart-stealing Captiva experience.

It is their welcoming smiles and laughter make the resort marina a place that attracts people from all around the globe. But it is the Jensen’s commitment to preserving their portion of paradise that allows guests to continue experiencing the splendor of Captiva Island.

In early November, the Jensen brothers took action in finding a solution to mitigate storm-water runoff into the bay. They paired up with Leigh Gevelinger, a landscape designer with R.S. Walsh Landscaping, to create a rain garden with native vegetation at Jensen’s Marina. Gevelinger created a lower space on the property to help capture rainwater before it flows into the bay; therefore filtering out harmful sediment and preventing pollution.

“Dave and I began working together as I am interested in sustainable landscape design and environmental preservation,” said Gevelinger. “We will be monitoring the effectiveness of this garden during storm events so that we can make future improvements.”

In addition to installing a rain garden, a small beautification garden was planted at the Jensen’s front entrance along Captiva Drive. The brothers felt compelled to do this project after the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Marine Laboratory conducted a water quality study.

In addition to the rain garden, a small beautification garden was installed at the front entrance of Jensen’s Marin on Captiva Drive.

Following a 2007 beach closure, the Captiva Community Panel and SCCF obtained funding from the Lee Tourism Development Council to study the island’s water quality. The marine lab first characterized the near-shore water through periodic and storm event monitoring on the gulf and estuary sides of the island.

It showed rain events triggered elevated human bacteria concentrations and Captiva sources seemed to increase nitrogen near shore waters. The study found storm water runoff introduced bacteria into the estuary and Gulf around Captiva in concentrations high enough to cause periodic beach advisories.

The study also found that areas of Captiva, which relied on septic systems, had significantly elevated levels of nitrogen in the groundwater, which likely contributed to surface water loadings but not the elevated bacteria. The research suggested more complete removal of nitrogen by existing septic systems would be prudent in addressing water quality issues in that area, as well as reducing storm water runoff through re-vegetation and management efforts.

“We hope that this project will serve as an education opportunity to other business and home owners who are interested in making a positive environmental contribution on their properties,” said Gevelinger, who earned a degree in landscape architecture and is certified through LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Since installing their rain garden with native vegetation, the Jensen brothers have experience a few storm events to test their project it’s been reported successful. Additionally, Gevelinger was able to donate her time and services to this project through R.S. Walsh Landscaping.

She said, “It was our way of giving back to Captiva and local business owners.”

To see a mature and larger version of the garden planted at Jensen’s Marina, stop by R.S.Walsh’s “In The Garden” location on Sanibel. There is a center island that holds rainwater runoff from the driveway. The sediments are filtered out of the water and prevented from reaching the wetland behind the property.